Living in the Open

Welp, Happy July 4th! How did that even happen so quickly?! The year is half over? What?!

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Frying Pan Mountain Sunset 

Tomorrow I turn 29. This is a fantastic number, it means I have one year left of my twenties, and then I’m in my thirties. In 6 weeks (from yesterday), I also start PTA school. The summer is disappearing in a blur of mushroom foraging, time in Pisgah, and working.

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Post-storm mushroom hunting 

I spent a week teaching a kids camp at NOC, which was probably the highlight of my summer work-wise this year. It was interesting to note what thought patterns re-emerged, and how much I’ve changed since I left over a year ago now. One thought that re-emerged was this need to prove to people that I am cool, that I am a badass.

I’ve noticed how this changes the way I view my own life and the story I tell, the spin I put on things. The last few weeks I’ve been self-conscious about going back to school, self conscious about waiting tables again and not having achieved a certain level of “success” by my 29th birthday. I don’t have a newer car like I planned, I don’t have a house, I don’t have a solid retirement account yet (although I do have a few things working already and am buying some stock this week to start working too). Instead I’m waiting tables and back in school.

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Finding lots of chanterelles this year

But sometimes when I’m in the woods foraging and painting, I think about this and how silly it is. Its just one version of the current story. The other story I can tell, one of the stories a lot of people in my life see and celebrate, is that I’m 29 and I had the bravery necessary to leave one way of life that simply wasn’t working for me and get into a rather hard program of school. That I’m 29 and I’ve checked off most of the things on my bucket list (Grand Canyon, kayaking in Ecuador, Bali, travel to Alaska, Hawaii, etc), and now I’m gracefully planning the next chapter of my life.

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I also realize that the way people measure success is unique to each person. I think I’m successful when I’m being honest about what I need and actually try to acquire it. I’m successful because I have great friends, and am working towards something. I’m not stagnant. I get to spend a lot of time in Pisgah, exploring, One thing I’m the most proud of is how much I’ve learned to accept myself as I am, how much I’ve let unconditional love into my life, and learned how to also give it to myself.

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Success means different things to different people. I used to think I wanted more, but now I realize that’s kind of an insult. I don’t want “more” than my dirtbag friends, I want “differently”. For them, experiences are more important than financial security, and that’s fine. For me, I can’t enjoy experiences as much if I’m not also financially stable. So I realize I need a balance, and I’m the only one who has the power in my life to change paths, and start pursuing the things I really want, and don’t just wish I wanted.

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Weekly tradition: Dinner on the parkway 
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